Both readers and restaurateurs had a lot of suggestions for what to do with the former home of Mojitos -- which isn't surprising, considering that this spot at 1120 East Sixth Avenue is a good location just begging for a good operator to go into it.
And while I've already reported the news that Alex Gurevich from Limon and Bisque is taking over the space, and will be putting on the big white had to make pizzas and salumi for the neighbors, that didn't stop the guys from Dave Query's Big Red F group from playing along with my "What if..." game.
In my original fantasy version of the new Mojitos, I had James Lee--the able tender from Query's Bitter Bar at Happy--hanging out behind the bar and mixing up artful cocktails for all the Cuban food fanatics I imagined flooding my re-staffed Cuban eatery. And apparently, Lee thought that was a pretty good idea, too, because he came through with a couple of cocktail recipes for what he would've made there if only Query and the Big Red F crew had been a little quicker and snagged the space for themselves.
He even offered up his take on the classic, Cuban mojito. "Most bars and restaurants will use simple syrup and muddle lime wedges with mint leaves," he wrote. "I'd recommend using powdered sugar and gently muddling fresh mint with freshly squeezed lime juice. (muddling lime wedges may give too many oils and too much bitterness from the grind.) Always use fresh cracked ice and stir, never shake! When shaken, the mint will bruise and water-down the alcohol too quickly. Lastly, use a fresh, healthy dose of mint sprig for the garnish to give the nose/aromatic to the cocktail."
The original authentic recipe from Havana, Cuba: 1 teaspoon powdered sugar 1 oz. fresh lime juice 4-6 mint leaves 2 oz. Havana Club Silver Rum (or any good silver rum will do...) 2 oz. club soda
Gently muddle mint and sugar in a mixing glass, add lime juice, rum and cracked ice. Stir for 20-25 seconds then top off with club soda. Pour into a tall collins glass. Garnish with a large sprig of mint and a lime wheel or wedge.
And Lee had another suggestion as well, for a classic from the days of Big Havana: El Presidente.
"A lost classic cocktail from Havana, Cuba," he noted. "A drink of choice only for the upper-class / aristocrats in Havana during the States' Prohibition Era. The President Machado offered this cocktail to President Coolidge when visiting Cuba in 1928, which Coolidge politely declined due to prohibition in the States."
2 oz. aged rum or silver rum 0.75 oz. french vermouth 0.5 oz. orange curacao 0.25 oz. home-made grenadine 0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
Add all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, then shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
So while I believe that Gurevich will do a fine job with the space and will, no doubt, make some tasty pizzas, I kinda wish my Cubano dreams had come true. Because both of those cocktails? I want them now. Both at the same time, like maybe in one of those beer-can hats...
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